One of the biggest challenges for sport specific news agencies is to keep the content flowing all year around. Now we here at GAGR don’t put ourselves under that pressure, and probably suffer because of our approach but, hey, what are you going do? Elsewhere, other outlets don’t have that freedom (or apathy). But what do you do when you don’t have regular matches to report on and you need to steer clear of the more mundane, controversial off-field related stories?
You fall back on that all-time favorite source of easy to produce, engagement stimulating trope of “best ever teams”!
Far be it for us amateurs at GAGR to shy away from nicking someone else’s concept and running with it. So we threw it out there on social media and asked our loyal and patient followers – “what best of XV do you want to see and we’ll give it to you”. So here we are, due to popular demand – 15(ish) XVs as requested by you.
One point to make is that, as much as possible, I’ve stuck with players from the professional era. I’ve been following the game closely since about 1984, and could have gone back to then – but what about all the players before that? What make it such an arbitrary cut off just to suit me? At least with 1996, that’s the start of the ‘modern age’ of rugby with Super Rugby, Rugby Championships and all the bells and whistles of professional rugby. So keep that in mind as you read on.
A Best Wallaby XV:
I actually decided to throw this back to you guys. GAGR have been running a “Wallaby Player of the Year” since we basically kicked off this place back in 2009. So it’s not quite since 1996, but I have accumulated all the votes our forum members have provided over this period and come up with the GAGR Wallaby Team of the last 11 years!
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper
One Test Wonders:
We were asked to put together a team of players with less than 10 caps. Pffft. Easy. So why not challenge ourselves and pick a team of One Cap Wonders? And make no mistake, this is to no way diminish the careers nor abilities of these players – they all have one more Wallaby cap than the vast majority of our readership. In the end we had to cheat a couple of times in regards to our ‘professional era only’ rule….perhaps we should have just stuck with the 10 caps and under challenge?
15 Mark Bartholomeuz, 14 Rod Davies, 13 MattO’Connor, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Lachlan Mackay, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Fillie Finau, 5 Al Kanaar, 4 Steve Lidbury, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Mark Bell, 1 Cameron Blades.
Seems fair enough. What’s the best team of players who never scored a try for the Wallabies? As it stands now there are a couple of players in this team who can perhaps break their duck some time soon, but for the rest of them they must resign themselves to having scored the same number of Wallaby tries as I did.
15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 James Holbeck, 11 Tom Banks, 10 Rod Kafer, 9 Sam Cordingley, 8 Troy Coker, 7 Hugh McMeniman, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 David Giffin, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Bill Young.
Didn’t go to a Traditional Rugby Private School
This was, as you would expect, a pretty tough team to pick. Just to research took a fair bit of time and I’m hoping that wikipedia is accurate! In the end though, it’s a bloody good team.
15 Chris Latham, 14 Ben Tune, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Steve Larkham, 9 Sam Cordingley, 8 David Lyons, 7 George Smith, 6 Matt Cockbain, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 David Giffin, 3 Fletcher Dyson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Matt Dunning.
We had lots of requests for a team of players who were born overseas which wasn’t too tough to pull together. This may not be the “best ever” team, because I took the liberty of picking a few quirky ones and tried to get a mix of countries represented.
15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Lote Tuqiri, 13 Clyde Rathbone, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Mike Harris, 9 George Gregan, 8 Toutai Kefu, 7 David Pocock, 6 Willie Ofahengaue, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Matt Dunning.
So what is the best team of players who didn’t get a test cap for the Wallabies? This one is a little subjective and even I can see a little bit of pro-Red bias in here. This one was up there on the difficult status as much because everyone seems to get a cap under some coaches. Either way, there are some mighty fine rugby players in this lot with perhaps a couple still a chance of earning their way out of the team.
15 Jono Lance, 14 Clinton Shifcofske, 13 Blair Connor, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Peter Hewat, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Josh Holmes, 8 Jone Tawake, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tamaiti Horua, 5 Mitch Chapman, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Gareth Hardy.
Brothers in arms:
This one caused a bit of discussion on twitter with the Whitelock and Barrett brothers a key focus. But we are not Black and White rugby. We are Green and Gold Rugby and so I am restricting this team to Aussies. Lots of depth here and I had to leave some good brothers out. The Cockbains missed out because, despite Brent representing the Reds he also played for Wales. The Herberts missed out because Anthony played in the amateur era, which ruled out Ellas, McLeans et al. The only non-Wallabies picked are a trio of brothers (which could have been a foursome) all of whom have worn the green and gold but are needed because 15 is an odd number.
15 Ben Lucas, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Steve Kefu, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Isaac Lucas, 10 Tyrone Smith, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Toutai Kefu, 7 George Smith, 7 Lopeti Timani, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Andrew Blades, 2 Saia Fainga’a, Cameron Blades.
Captain my captain:
We had a couple of people pose the task of picking a team of captains, which shouldn’t be too tough considering we’ve had about 84 of them through Wallaby history. Restrict it to just the professional era and things get somewhat more challenging. I’ve had to cheat on a couple of positions but it does all beg the question – who’s your captain of this team?
15 Paul McLean, 14 Johnnie Wallace, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Tim Horan, 11 Stan Whickham, 10 Michael Lynagh, 9 George Gregan, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 John Eales, 4 James Horwill, 3 John Thornett, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Ok this one was fun! And perhaps the one that will cause the most debate. Whose skills are best served where? Who are the props in a team of props? Who takes the kicks at goal? How cool are rolling mauls etc etc.
15 Nick Stiles, 14 Rodney Blake, 13 Matt Dunning, 12 Taniela Tupou, 11 Greg Holmes, 10 James Slipper, 9 Benn Robinson, 8 Sekope Kepu, 7 Dan Crowley, 6 Allan Alaalatoa, 5 Richard Harry, 4 Scott Sio, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Ben Alexander, 1 Bill Young.
I’m Feeling Old (aka Chips off the Ol’ Block):
Coming clean, this is a XV that has been swimming around in my head for a while. I think it really kicked home when I saw Louis Lynagh making his way through the English rugby ranks. These are the off-spring of players I used to idolize when I was young(er) and now they’re children are plying their trade at or near the top grade. Shees. Shout out to Brendan Nasser with a son and daughter in the team.
15 Louis Lynagh, 14 Jack Hardy, 13 Alex Horan, 12 Matt McGahan, 11 Jack Grant, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Scott Gale, 8 Arabella Nasser, 7 Christian Poidevin, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Annabelle Codey, 4 Fergus Lillicrap, 3 Josh Nasser, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Angus Bell.
Surname is a First name:
How you going? Still with me? I’m barely with me at this stage. Why did I commit to 15 of them??? At least these last few are less cerebral than what we’ve done so far, as you may have been able to tell by the title of this one. Someone just wanted a team of players whose last name is actually a first name. Who am I to disappoint?
15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Dan Herbert, 12 Pat Howard, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Tim Gavin, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Justin Harrison, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Jeremy Paul, 1 Ben Alexander.
The two-dads thing is offensive I reckon. Kind of like the term Ranga. But anyway, one of you wanted a team of hyphenated surnames, which is a bit of a rugby stereotype I guess. Anyway, I’ve given this intro far too much time than this team deserves.
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Nathan Eyres-Brown, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Isaak Fines-Leleiwasa, 8 Angus Scott-Young, 7 Ross Haylett-Petty, 6 Lukhan Salakai-Loto, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Dean Oakman-Hunt, 3 Leslie Leulua’iali-Makin, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Adjectives as a surname:
Yep. Just as the title says. I’ve nothing more to add.
15 Jonah Placid, 14 Mitch Hardy, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Jason Little, 11 Tom English, 10 Nathan Grey, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tala Gray, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 John Welborn, 3 Gareth Hardy, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Bill Young.
Head Geared for Action:
Really? C’mon! So just a team of guys who wore head gear? Like at least once I guess? Ok. You asked for it.
15 Steve Larkham, 14 Jason Little, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Pat McCabe, 10 Elton Flatley, 9 Matt Giteau, 8 David Lyons, 7 David Croft, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Phil Kearns, 1 Benn Robinson
Bad Boys Bad Boys
So this was another popular one. A lot of people wanted a team of people who stuffed up off-field, or were ill-disciplined on it. I myself didn’t particularly want to finish on such a downer so I am just going to refer you to a forum post by one of our more quirky posters, Dismal Pillock, entitled “All-Time Crim 1st XV“. It’s more comprehensive than anything you were going to get here.
So that’s it. I hope you got a kick out of some of these teams. If you’ve got thoughts on other Best of XVs, or better shouts to the ones named above, then let us know in the comment section below. Otherwise we here at GAGR wish all our readers and supporters a wonderful Christmas and safe New Years and we’ll see you all in 2020.